This 4th of July morning bloomed sticky hot in the Midwest. One thing I’ve learned in the 20 plus years of living here is that when the humidity hovers anywhere near summertime Fahrenheit in these parts, folks run for water, ice cream and air conditioning. You see, that long, hard, winter freeze gets right into our blood while we’re hibernating up here and thickens it right up. As a result, our inner thermostats consistently read approximately 20 degrees above the rest of the country. You laugh, but wait till you see us in shorts and flip flops in 50°. (How else will they get a full month’s use?)
So, this morning everyone is running to family cabins, lakes, boats, and barbeques. We’ll celebrate our Independence Day with loads of red, white and blue, fireworks and food. If we have a veteran, we’ll bring him or her an extra hot dog and thank them for their service. Later, at a more reasonable temperature, we’ll break out the Smores and probably some apple pie and sparklers. Off and on today I’ll think about the privilege of living in the land of the free. And because of God’s grace, I’ll also think of the responsibility that implies.
Just a few years ago I bought the kids their “Fourth of July Outfits” that they’d never wear again. Hubby spent a ridiculous amount of money on things that would literally go up in smoke and we had just gotten back from a rather expensive, but fun filled week long family vacation. Things were good. I called myself blessed. I was thankful. I’m even more so now. But a lot has changed since then. The things I considered myself blessed with are quite different. These last few years we’ve been richly blessed with LESS.
I realize this is a very anti American sentiment on a very American holiday, but let me explain. I have this thing about comfort. Sometimes it gets all confused in my head with security and love. And it wasn’t until God removed many of my comforts that I realized the depth of this confusion of mine. If you’d asked me if I believed in a prosperity gospel I’d have told you, “No!”. But, I did on some level, believe that if God loved me he would provide for me the way I wanted. Turns out, since He loves me very much, he allowed me to learn that my security and love comes from Him alone, and not my circumstances. Since I’m a rather slow learner, and I really do desire comfort far more than I should, this is a process that will likely continue until He calls me home.
Here’s the crazy thing. Our lives will never look the same as they did a few years ago. Our bank accounts will never be so full, our credit will likely never recover and all those future plans we had will look completely different. Yet, I feel so richly blessed by less.
Today, I can say “no” to my children and know that it’s okay. That just because I CAN give them something, doesn’t mean I should. I know that even without a penny to my name I’ll still know my Father loves me because I’ve felt that love when I didn’t even have that penny. I’ll watch the town fireworks somewhere and be unafraid. Seriously, this is a big deal for those of you that know me. (Whoever thought explosives were FUN and decided to incorporate them into a celebration for a country that earned it’s freedom through deadly explosions…. well, you see the irony, don’t you??) And I’ll celebrate more than just my freedom of speech, right to assemble and bear arms. I’ll celebrate my freedom from a few idols and fears that held me captive for a long time. A little rain might adjust my plans for the day, but not by any means ruin it. There are far worse things than getting wet.
Yup, I’ll be celebrating my anemic checking account with a day at home, sparklers (hazardous sticks of flaming metal I’ll let Mini Hubby hold) and hopefully a good barbeque and quality family time. Thank you, Lord, for functioning air conditioning and a roof that doesn’t yet leak!